Sunday, 27 September 2015

"Right-wing governments have a better record of implementing green policies over the last half century than their left-wing counterparts."

There has been considerable dismay in the renewables sector about the Government's shift in energy policies:
Futures Forum: Regen SouthWest comes to SidEnergy >>> Tues 8th Sept >>> public open meeting
Industry reacts with shock and anger to renewable energy subsidy cuts - Blue and Green Tomorrow

And there are questions arising out of the Government's preferred energy policies:
Futures Forum: Climate change: and carbon pricing >>> emissions trading isn't working
Futures Forum: Fracking and declining profitability
Futures Forum: Fracking and lobbying
Futures Forum: An uncertain future for fracking...

Indeed, there has been considerable confusion about this change in direction, well beyond the 'green perspective':
Futures Forum: Wither UK energy policy?
UK energy policy under fire as Drax quits carbon-capture project - FT.com

However, following the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, there has been much speculation about how his policies would or would not advance the 'green' agenda.

This is from Geoffrey Lean in the Telegraph:

Jeremy Corbyn's green agenda could very well backfire

The Labour leader's radical new policies is likely to polarise the environment debate, and leave the Tories in power

Jeremy Corbyn Labour Party Leader
Photo: Rex
Some environmentalists, as the decades-old simile puts it, are watermelons – green on the outside, red on the inside. Is Jeremy Corbyn the opposite - a grape, perhaps. No-one could deny how red he is. But do his undoubtably scarlet policies hide a green interior?
In one key, if limited area – climate change and energy policy - they may do. This is something of a surprise, since the only remark on the subject that got much coverage during his leadership campaign was his suggestion that coal mines might be reopened in South Wales. And his elder brother, metereologist Piers, is a leading climate change sceptic.
Whatever, it marks a sharp change from previous Labour energy policy which - in so far as it was possible to work it out – seemed little different from the Government's.. Mr Corbyn's close adviser on the environment, former MP Alan Simpson, says his stance will “transform Britain's energy politics”.
Mr Simpson believes that “a progressive majority of support” may emerge behind Mr Corbyn's policies in the House of Lords, which has far greater LibDem representation than today's Commons. But it is also possible that Labour, together with the SNP and LibDems, may give the government cause for concern in the lower house over fracking, if they can induce a few increasingly wary Tories with affected constituencies to rebel.
In the end, however, Mr Corbyn's policies may well prove bad for the environment, by further labelling green concerns as purely left wing ones. They never have been. As I have often pointed out, right-wing governments have a better record of implementing green policies over the last half century than their left-wing counterparts, and it was David Cameron's “vote blue, go green” Conservatives that pushed environmental concerns up the political agenda.
But, given the tribal nature of British politics, Mr Corbyn's green enthusiasm is likely to provoke an equal and opposite reaction on the Right. Already part of ministers' present onslaught on wind and solar energy springs from settling scores with their erstwhile LibDem coalition partners. Left-wing Labour's radical new policies are likely to polarise things even further. And the Conservatives look like being in power for a long time to come.....

Jeremy Corbyn's green agenda could very well backfire - Telegraph 

Indeed, there are many who are rather tired of the 'left-right' view of politics:

Is Jeremy Corbyn a blessing or a curse for green businesses?

Corbyn's victory presents a big challenge for green businesses and investors, as well as those political centrists who want to build a low carbon economy

14 Sep 2015, 16:24
As everyone thought, the unthinkable happened. The Labour Party is now led by a happily unreconstructed socialist 
However, the green business community does not have the luxury of simply dismissing Corbyn as an extreme figure - not when he is promising a suite of energy and climate change policies that are, on the face of it, significantly more ambitious than the currentlyconfused and contradictory package being pursued by the government.
However, Corbyn's victory also poses a complex challenge to an environmental movement still battling to challenge the caricature that it is an inherently left wing concern. Corbyn's assertion we need to take much bolder action on climate change is to be welcomed, but there is a serious risk that further entrenching decarbonisation as a 'left wing issue' alienates supporters green campaigners and businesses need to win over and helps centrist politicians offering watered down climate policies position themselves as the reasonable alternative.
In a brilliant recent blog post, US climate hawk David Roberts detailed how the flawed approach to viewing politics as a neat left-right spectrum running between two extremist 'crazy zones' represents a massive problem for action on climate change. As he puts it: "The right-wing base has a coherent position on climate change: It's a hoax, so we shouldn't do anything about it. The left-wing base has a coherent position: It's happening, so we should do something about it. The "centrist" position, shared by conservative Democrats and the few remaining moderate Republicans, is that it's happening but we shouldn't do anything about it."
This problem is nowhere near as acute in the UK, but you can see how it is starting to emerge. Much of Corbyn's economic agenda is already being firmly characterised by the media as being in the extreme left 'crazy zone' - a scenario that somehow allows a government pushing through a Trade Union bill one of its own backbenchers describes as having 'Franco-style' sections as moderate and centrist. Business Secretary Sajid Javidseems to reckon Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead is the best book ever written and Chancellor George Osborne makes no secret of his desire to transform the UK through one of the most drastic state-shrinking exercises in history, and yet it is Labour that will now be characterised as being run by ideologues. The Conservatives appear to have fully mastered the old adage about how you campaign from the centre and govern to move the centre.
If this consigning of all Corbyn's political priorities, including bold action on climate change, to the 'crazy zone' succeeds then the green economy as a whole has a serious problem. If you look at how this dilemma is playing out in the US, the only people talking about sufficiently ambitious climate policies are mostly to be found in the 'crazy zone' of the far left, but, as Roberts notes it "doesn't seem that crazy to me". Me neither.
To avoid this worrying scenario being repeated in the UK a huge amount depends, as always, on the few remaining radical centrists in British politics on both sides of the house. As we brace ourselves to once again watch everything in Westminster forced through the out-dated prism of the left-right divide, strong political and business leaders are needed to highlight how climate change and the response it demands defies this reductive binary division. What is needed, as always, is the harnessing of the innovation, competition, and market forces associated with the right, coupled with the active state and strong legislation more commonly associated with the left.
As the government prepares its crucial new climate change strategy for the next five years and beyond it is to be hoped Jeremy Corbyn understands all of this, just as it is to be hoped the defeated Labour centrists currently considering their next move and the Conservative modernisers who remain quietly committed to decarbonisation also understand this. It is similarly to be hoped all these constituencies are willing to work together to deliver the credible and ambitious energy and climate policies the UK so desperately needs.
Because the alternative is an overtly left wing climate strategy from Corbyn that simply helps an underpowered climate strategy from the government somehow look reasonable and credible. And that is the main reason many within the green business community will remain somewhat conflicted about the election of a leader of the opposition who has promised to champion their concerns.

Is Jeremy Corbyn a blessing or a curse for green businesses? - 14 Sep 2015 - James' Blog: a blog from BusinessGreen.

In fact, there are very different opinions amongst greens themselves as to how 'green' Corbyn is:
Corbyn is great - but the Greens are different! - The Ecologist
Natalie Bennett: Jeremy Corbyn's Victory Helps The Green Party, Not Hurts It
Jeremy Corbyn's fetish for economic growth will not sway Green voters

Many on the left see some sort of coalition emerging:
How can Jeremy Corbyn build a red-green opposition?

The UKIP leader seems to agree:
Nigel Farage: No Point Voting Green If Jeremy Corbyn Becomes Labour Leader

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